The Pentagon can’t explain where $2.5 billion in border wall funding is coming from

Rebekah Entralgo

Rebekah Entralgo Reporter, ThinkProgress

Military medical facilities and dining halls. A hangar for drones in South Korea. A wastewater treatment plant at West Point. All could lose money as the Trump administration shifts resources to pay for a border wall.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan on Monday delivered to Congress a list of military projects that could be impacted by Trump’s national emergency declaration. Shanahan’s list to Congress is general and includes $12.5 billion worth of program funding that is up for grabs. Funding could also be siphoned away from facilities that affect everyday life on domestic and international U.S. military bases, including dining halls, medical facilities, and roads.

Trump’s national emergency declaration allows him to divert $3.6 billion worth of funding from the programs Shanahan identified, in order to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. It isn’t known when the White House will make the $3.6 billion cut and from which Pentagon programs.

But Shanahan’s list doesn’t account for an additional $2.5 billion in funding that Trump requested for his wall.

In his emergency declaration last month, Trump announced that in addition to diverting money from the military reconstruction budget, he would also take $2.5 billion from the Pentagon’s counter-drug funding. But as The Washington Post reported, the counter-drug account currently has less than $100 million in it. This leaves the Pentagon the task of finding more projects to cut funding from and moving that money into the budget for the wall. There still isn’t clarity on where that money will be coming from.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), who sits on the Senate Armed Services committee, said in a statement that Trump “is putting his border wall ahead of the safety of our troops.”

“The projects that could lose funding include military training centers in Virginia, a plant to prevent water contamination at Camp Lejeune, and a cybersecurity facility in Georgia,” he said. “I hope my colleagues in Congress will take a serious look at the projects that support our military in their own states and then vote to override the president’s veto.”

Additionally, siphoning counter-drug funding from the Pentagon would do very little to actually stop drugs from crossing the U.S.- Mexico border. As ThinkProgress has previously reported, most drugs come through vehicles by legal ports of entry.

In recent weeks, some of CBP’s largest drug seizures have occurred at ports not located on the southern border. Nineteen million dollars’ worth of cocaine was discovered at a seaport in Savannah, Georgia last month, while 100 pounds of fentanyl was seized at the Port of Philadelphia the month prior.

While Russell Vought, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, has stated that the money pooled from military projects will contribute to the “full completion” of the wall, the president’s own administration has estimated that its total cost will be far higher. The White House requested $8.6 billion in funding from Congress for the 2020 fiscal year to help pay for the border wall, but the Department of Homeland Security has estimated that the wall could wind up costing $22 billion. Senate Democrats, meanwhile, have warned of a $70 billion sticker price.

Congress voted to reject Trump’s national emergency declaration, but the president used his first veto on the legislation last week.

Despite both the record-long shutdown over border wall funding and the national emergency declaration, a single new linear mile of border wall has yet to be constructed. The existing 694 miles were all constructed by Trump’s predecessors.

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Reposted from ThinkProgress

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Federal Minimum Wage Reaches Disappointing Milestone

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

A disgraceful milestone occurred last Sunday, June 16.

That date officially marked the longest period that the United States has gone without increasing federal the minimum wage.

That means Congress has denied raises for a decade to 1.8 million American workers, that is, those workers who earn $7.25 an hour or less. These 1.8 million Americans have watched in frustration as Congress not only denied them wages increases, but used their tax dollars to raise Congressional pay. They continued to watch in disappointment as the Trump administration failed to keep its promise that the 2017 tax cut law would increase every worker’s pay by $4,000 per year.

More than 12 years ago, in May 2007, Congress passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It took effect two years later. Congress has failed to act since then, so it has, in effect, now imposed a decade-long wage freeze on the nation’s lowest income workers.

To combat this unjust situation, minimum wage workers could rally and call their lawmakers to demand action, but they’re typically working more than one job just to get by, so few have the energy or patience.

The Economic Policy Institute points out in a recent report on the federal minimum wage that as the cost of living rose over the past 10 years, Congress’ inaction cut the take-home pay of working families.  

At the current dismal rate, full-time workers receiving minimum wage earn $15,080 a year. It was virtually impossible to scrape by on $15,080 a decade ago, let alone support a family. But with the cost of living having risen 18% over that time, the situation now is far worse for the working poor. The current federal minimum wage is not a living wage. And no full-time worker should live in poverty.

While ignoring the needs of low-income workers, members of Congress, who taxpayers pay at least $174,000 a year, are scheduled to receive an automatic $4,500 cost-of-living raise this year. Congress increased its own pay from $169,300 to $174,000 in 2009, in the middle of the Great Recession when low income people across the country were out of work and losing their homes. While Congress has frozen its own pay since then, that’s little consolation to minimum wage workers who take home less than a tenth of Congressional salaries.

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